NHMRC revised policy on the dissemination of research findings
A revised NHMRC policy for the dissemination of research findings came into effect on 1 July 2012.
The Australian Government makes a major investment in research to support its essential role in improving the wellbeing of our society. To maximise the benefits from research, publications resulting from research activities must be disseminated as broadly as possible to allow access by other researchers and the wider community. NHMRC acknowledges that researchers take into account a wide range of factors in deciding on the best outlets for publications arising from their research.
Such considerations include the status and reputation of a journal, book, publisher or conference, the peer review process of evaluating their research outputs, access by other stakeholders to their work, the likely impact of their work on users of research and the further dissemination and production of knowledge.
Taking heed of these considerations, NHMRC wants to ensure the widest possible dissemination of the research supported by NHMRC funding, in the most effective manner and at the earliest opportunity.
NHMRC therefore requires that any publications arising from an NHMRC supported research project must be deposited into an open access institutional repository within a twelve month period from the date of publication.
NHMRC understands that some researchers may not be able to meet the new requirements initially because of current legal or contractual obligations.
Outcomes of NHMRC round table meeting to discuss the revised policy on the dissemination of research findings
On Monday 14 May 2012, NHMRC held an Open Access roundtable meeting to discuss the revised policy on the dissemination of research findings. The meeting brought together representatives from the publishing industry, research offices, librarians, repository managers, AAMRI and the Group of 8 to discuss the implementation of the revised policy.
The points below provide information regarding some of the major issues discussed at this meeting.
It should be noted that NHMRC is sensitive to copyright and licensing arrangements currently in place between authors, institutions and publishers. NHMRC is also aware that institutions and individuals will need to develop mechanisms to ensure compliance with NHMRC’s policy that take into account agreements already in place between authors and publishers.
One issue of concern raised at the roundtable was the statement “within a twelve month period of the date of publication” in the revised policy. In this context it should be noted that a recent UK report from the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings, chaired by Dame Janet Finch, recently published a report titled “Accessibility, Sustainability, Excellence: How to Expand Access to Research Publications”. The working Group noted that where funds for “gold” open access are not made available, it is unreasonable for funders to mandate open-access embargoes of less than 12 months.
Further detail regarding the revised NHMRC policy on the dissemination of research findings
Why has the NHMRC revised its policy on the dissemination of research findings?
The overarching aim of NHMRC’s Policy is to ensure that the findings of publicly funded health and medical research are made available to the wider public as soon as possible. Both the research community and the public gain from knowledge derived from NHMRC funded research, and both wish to derive maximum benefit from these outputs.
This revision brings NHMRC further into line with other international health and medical research funding agencies such as the US National Institutes of Health, the Wellcome Trust and the UK Medical Research Council.
When does the revised dissemination policy commence?
The policy commenced on 1 July 2012, but the first articles are not due to be made available in an Institutional Repository until 1st of July 2013.
What do I do if I have an article accepted for publication before the 1st of July 2012, but published after this date?
Articles accepted for publication before the 1st of July 2012 but published after this date will be exempt from the revised policy on the dissemination of research findings.
NHMRC considers an article ‘accepted’ for publication from the date the article’s author and publisher execute a publication ‘licensing agreement’, or from the date the publisher notifies the author that their article was accepted for publication on condition of the author signing a publication license agreement, whichever comes first.
Who is responsible for ensuring compliance with the revised policy?
Compliance with the policy is a matter for the Administering Institution to discuss with the NHMRC – the NHMRC will not routinely check compliance with individual Chief Investigators (CIs).
The Chief Investigator A (CIA) on any given grant will be responsible for providing the publication metadata (ie – journal name, title, author list, volume, issue, page numbers etc) and, as and when it becomes available, the appropriate copy of the publication to the institutional repository (although this may be managed via the institutional research administration office). This is independent of the CIA’s authorship role (first, last or middle) on a given paper.
Which publications should be included in the institutional repository?
NHMRC does not intend to place restrictions on the types of publications that can be included in an institutional repository. The Administering Institution should assist researchers to identify and capture appropriate information.
In line with NHMRC’s Funding Agreement any material published in respect of an NHMRC-funded research activity must include acknowledgement of NHMRC’s funding, including the grant identification number (clause 20.2). Similarly, it is expected that any material published in respect of an NHMRC-funded research activity will be included in the institutional repository.
Researchers should ensure that all publications are listed in the scientific Final Report for each grant. If a publication cannot be included in the institutional repository, a justification for its non-inclusion must be provided in the Final Report.
What information needs to be submitted to the institutional repository and when?
Publication metadata (ie – journal name, title, author list, volume, issue, page numbers etc) must be submitted to the institutional repository as soon as possible after the paper is accepted for publication, no matter when (or if) the paper itself will become openly accessible.
The manuscript/journal article should be submitted to the institutional repository as soon as possible after the publication date. The repository manager will ensure that the manuscript/journal article is made available at a date that complies with the journal’s copyright transfer agreement.
If the copyright transfer/licence agreement does not allow the article (or manuscript) to be made available within twelve months of the date of publication, it needs to be made available as soon as possible after that date. If the journal never allows the article to be made available, this information must be provided at the time of Final Report submission. Institutions may wish to use a publicly available ‘holding note’ to explain that copyright/licensing restrictions prevent inclusion of a particular article on the repository until a specific date.
Which version of the manuscript/journal article do I need to make available via the institutional repository?
There are numerous versions of the article that can be made available via the institutional repository. Both the author’s version of the article (Word document) after peer-review, with revisions having been made and the publisher’s version (e.g. journal version with final pagination and formatting) are acceptable under this revised policy.
Journals may have different policies regarding what version of a manuscript or article can be made available, and timing of this availability. This information should be included in any copyright/licensing agreement.
To find further information regarding which version of a paper can be uploaded to your institutional repository, consult your librarian or the SHERPA/RoMEO database of international publisher policies, which provides a great deal of detail:
OAKList covers the policies of Australian journals: http://www.oaklist.qut.edu.au
If I publish my article in an Open Access journal or in PubMed Central, do I also need to submit the article/manuscript to my institutional repository?
No. If the print version (journal version) of the article is openly accessible via the publisher’s website or via a service such as PubMed Central, it is sufficient to just make the article metadata available in the institutional repository and provide a link to the site where the print version is available.
What do I do if my institution does not have an institutional repository?
NHMRC recently held a round table discussion regarding the implementation of the revised dissemination policy. During this discussion, some concerns were expressed regarding the cost of administering the revised policy. Universities are better placed than some other institutions in terms of infrastructure support due to previous funding provided for institutional repositories via the Australian Scheme for Higher Education Repositories (ASHER).
There is a possibility of shared access to institutional repositories between universities, medical research institutes and hospitals. This shared repository access will need to be negotiated between the partner institutions.
If no institutional repository is immediately available to a Chief Investigator, this will need to be recorded in the grant Final Report.
NHMRC may discuss the implementation of this Policy with Administering Institutions that do not provide researchers with access to a repository.
Further background on the development of this revised policy can be found at the link below.
- Revised Policy on Dissemination of Research Findings 22 February, 2012
(02) 6217 9000
Previous Policy on Dissemination of Research Findings
The Australian Government makes a major investment in research to support its essential role in improving the wellbeing of our society. To maximise the benefits from research, findings need to be disseminated as broadly as possible to allow access by other researchers and the wider community.
NHMRC acknowledges that researchers take into account a wide range of factors in deciding on the best outlets for publications arising from their research. Such considerations include the status and reputation of a journal or publisher, the peer review process of evaluating their research outputs, access by other stakeholders to their work, the likely impact of their work on users of research and the further dissemination and production of knowledge. Taking heed of these considerations, NHMRC wants to ensure the widest possible dissemination of the research supported by NHMRC funding, in the most effective manner and at the earliest opportunity.
NHMRC therefore encourages researchers to consider the benefits of depositing their data and any publications arising from a research project in an appropriate subject and/or institutional repository wherever such a repository is available to the researcher(s). If a researcher is not intending to deposit the data from a project in a repository within a six month period, s/he should include the reasons in the project’s Final Report. Any research outputs that have been or will be deposited in appropriate repositories should be identified in the Final Report.